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Commerce minister: 'There is no panic'

November 20, 2016 09:32 IST

'People are willing to face temporary inconvenience as they are determined to support PM Modi's crackdown on black money,' Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman tells Archis Mohan.

LUCKNOW: People queue up outside a bank. Photograph: Nand Kumar/PTI Photo

Isn't the government apprehensive of losing political capital because of demonetisation?
People have been inconvenienced and there are still queues outside banks and ATMs.

The queues outside banks and ATMs have started thinning, and the situation will improve significantly in the next few days.

The government is communicating regularly with the people. Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Shaktikanta Das holds a press conference every day.

The sentiment of the people at large is with the government. They are supporting Prime Minister Modi's bold move.

People trust his leadership and are willing to face temporary inconvenience as they are determined to support his crackdown on black money.

There is no panic. On our part, we are receiving suggestions and responding proactively to bring relief to people.

The Congress has said it would take as much as seven months for the money supply to be restored.

All I want to say is that the government announced the decision after much preparation.

Those who have ad infinitum asked our government about our efforts to curb black money, and their record on this count (when they were in government) was abysmal, are now rattled. They are trying to spread fear and uncertainty.

The time needed for printing particular currencies varies.

The finance minister has assured that new currency notes will be available very soon.

In the meantime, we should cooperate with the government and support the PM's decision to curb black money and fake currency.

Our political rivals should at least, in the interest of the nation, stop spreading misinformation.

The last two days of parliamentary proceedings were disrupted. What are the prospects for the next week?

The Congress finds itself clueless. It had demanded a discussion in the Rajya Sabha and we agreed. The House discussed the issue the entire day on Wednesday, but it was evident from the speeches of Congress MPs that the party's criticism of the decision lacked substance.

That is why on Thursday the Congress came up with a new demand that the PM should be present in the House and disrupted the proceedings.

I believe that to be a ridiculous demand. The matter relates to the ministry of finance. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley waited the entire day to give his reply on the issue.

I hope better sense would prevail upon the Congress and others when Parliament reconvenes on Monday.

Is the government looking at giving relief to the people, like relaxing income tax slabs?
What will be the gains from demonetisation?

We have received several suggestions, including some who have asked for changes in income tax. We will take all suggestions into consideration.

Demonetisation comes on the heels of a series of steps this government has taken to curb black money, including new tax treaties with Singapore, Mauritius and Cyprus.

These new treaties have plugged loopholes that some people exploited to avoid paying taxes in India.

The latest step will lead to a cleaner economy, more transactions through formal banking channels, improve liquidity in banks and spur investment.

This will impact GDP (Gross Domestic Product) positively. In due course, benefits will follow.

Common people understand this and have faith in the PM's leadership.

ArthaKranti, a Pune-based organisation, has claimed that withdrawal of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 currency notes was its suggestion, which the PM has implemented.

The government gets suggestions from a large number of stakeholders, public-spirited groups and individuals. It was one of the suggestions.

It is true that they had given us a presentation before the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. But it would be incorrect to say that the decision was based only on that presentation.

The government has brainstormed and prepared for months.

IMAGE: LUCKNOW: People queue up outside a bank. Photograph: Nand Kumar/PTI Photo

Archis Mohan